Doncaster Rovers are learning the hard way that a perilous position is a hard sell to prospective signings : Liam Hoden column

With half the transfer window to go, the reality of the grim situation in which Doncaster Rovers find themselves will not have been lost on those seeking to ignite their fortunes.
John Joe O'Toole had been expected to join Rovers but opted to remain at MansfieldJohn Joe O'Toole had been expected to join Rovers but opted to remain at Mansfield
John Joe O'Toole had been expected to join Rovers but opted to remain at Mansfield

It has been a difficult few weeks for the club’s recruitment team and boss Gary McSheffrey as they seek to bring in the desperately needed reinforcements that will give the faint survival hopes a boost.

The chief factor behind the difficulty is quite simple - it is exceptionally hard to sell Rovers in their current position to prospective signings.

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Rock bottom of the division, 11 points from safety, with no positive form of which to speak - it is obviously asking a lot for players to stake their immediate futures on such a dire scenario.

Michael JacobsMichael Jacobs
Michael Jacobs

Such thinking will certainly have played into the mind of John Joe O’Toole for example, who had looked all set to arrive at the Eco-Power Stadium this week following the expiry of his short term deal at Mansfield Town.

Instead, on Monday the veteran midfielder signed a new two-and-a-half year deal with the newly promotion-chasing Stags and opted to remain in League Two, where Rovers could easily be heading in a few months’ time.

The extent to which O’Toole’s late change of heart was influenced by the two club’s respective positions will likely never be known. And Mansfield’s offer of a longer deal than what Rovers were proposing will have been a considerable factor in the 33-year-old opting to stick at Field Mill.

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But it certainly reflects how unattractive a proposition Rovers currently are - substantial funds or not.

Michael Jacobs is so far opting to chance his arm at being involved at current club Portsmouth, rather than heading up north for a move he was apparently keen on heading into January.

Rovers are desperate to add experience to their ranks this month - as they have been since the last transfer window closed.

But, as they are finding as they search for alternatives to O’Toole and Jacobs, experienced options are not as desperate to join the cause.

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Unless there are some changes of heart over the next ten days, so much of the remainder of the season will likely rest on the shoulders of inexperienced loanees keen to make their mark.

And, given the events of the first half of the campaign, that will hardly inspire confidence in a sustained survival push.


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.

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